SiSU Health Challenge
Week 2: Making time for and how to meditate.
Welcome back to Week 2 of the SiSU Challenge. This week we will be exploring rest and relaxation, including a guide on how to meditate for beginners. This week we hope you feel empowered to unlock the power of mental clarity to help support you in your health journey.
A beginner’s guide to meditation.
Meditation is about making time for yourself; it is the perfect opportunity for you to slow your mind, your breathing and find clarity. When we become stressed or anxious, we tend to breathe more erratically, which in turn makes us feel more stressed. Making a habit of meditation is a great way to reduce your stress, blood pressure and improve your outlook on life.
The art of meditation is placing a focus on our thoughts, sensations, and feelings. It is also to focus on these sensations and emotions in a non-judgmentally way. In other words, it is essential to acknowledge all thoughts that enter the mind (attention), but it is also necessary to avoid getting caught up in the intimate stories and emotions associated with them (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). When practiced correctly, meditation can aid in the development of executive control, allowing people to overcome impulses and override automatic behaviour. It also develops a sense of ‘self-control’; this cornerstone ability is essential for things like intellectual performance (Schmeichel et al., 2003), impression management (Vohs et al., 2005) and even emotion regulation (Compton et al., 2008).
Benefits of meditation:
You can benefit across many areas thanks to meditation, it is common to find that those who practice meditation are:
- Positive – self-assured; possess a sense of security with the world around them
- Focused – have a clear vision of what they want to achieve
- Flexible – pliable when faced with change or uncertainty
- Organised – have developed structured approaches for managing ambiguity
- Proactive – engage and move with change rather than defending against it
- Energetic – display high levels of physical, emotional and intellectual energy
Let’s get started:
Find a comfortable position and breathe deeply, exhaling slowly through your nose while silently counting to five. Repeat 5 to 10 times and notice how much calmer and in control of how you feel. It can be hard to find the time to do this in the middle of a particularly stressful day, but it takes just a few moments and can help you to feel focused and sure of what steps you need to take to get through the crisis.
Create the space:
Before you get started on meditation, it is essential to create a space that you can relax in. Find a quiet space, clear away any clutter, find a comfortable place to sit or lay down. You want to ensure that your surroundings will not disrupt or interrupt your thought processes during your meditation. Maybe enhance the space with some candles, a blanket, or sit in the sun.
Get it all out before:
Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed with the things in many things we juggle in our lives, making it hard to slow down. It can be helpful to take a moment to write things down on paper that are running through your head. It can be a journal entry, a to-do list, anything that is taking priority in your mind. Your meditation is creating time for yourself, so be sure to create a mental space before you begin.
Find a comfortable position and breathe deeply, exhaling slowly through your nose while silently counting to five. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Things to think about:
- How does my body feel?
- Release any tension from the top of your head, down to your toes
- What can you hear? Are there any soft, distant noises that you can try and hear to bring your attention into the space?
- What are three things that make you happy?
- How can you achieve these three things?
Remember to breathe deeply, exhaling slowly through your nose while silently counting to five. Repeat 5 to 10 times again after calmly thinking through the above questions.
If you find you have ideas, thoughts or emotions come up, write these down. Putting them on paper can be a great way of processing and releasing energy.
Get your SiSU Rejuvenate E-Book – Your guide to rest and relaxation.
Explore our Rejuvenate Ebook to learn some valuable tips to help you rest well. Filled with relaxing herbal teas to help you unwind after a long day, meditation prompts to promote mental wellbeing, and much more, this resource will help you stay on track in improving your health.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. New York: Hyperion.
Schmeichel, B.J., Vohs, K.D., Baumeister, R.F. (2003). Intellectual performance and ego depletion: Role of the self in logical reasoning and other information processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 33–46.
Vohs, K.D., Baumeister, R.F., Ciarocco, N.J. (2005). Self-presentation: Regulatory resource depletion impairs impression management and effortful self-presentation depletes regu- latory resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 632–57.
Compton, R.J., Robinson, M.D., Ode, S., Quandt, L.C., Fineman, S.L., Carp, J. (2008). Error-monitoring ability predicts daily stress regulation. Psychological Science, 19, 702–8.